Gluten free salmon blinis
Gluten free salmon blinis
Blinis make the perfect appetiser or finger-food for parties. Soft and fluffy, these gluten-free mini pancakes are so quick and easy to make and can be easily frozen to save any leftovers. Pair them with a classic combo of smoked salmon, (dairy-free) cream cheese and freshly chopped chives.
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 10 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS
Are blinis just pancakes?
Blinis are a type of small pancake originating from Russia, that are typically served with garnishes such as caviar, soured cream, or melted butter. Over here, you tend to see them served with smoked salmon at informal dinner parties… although the other day we made them to bring on a picnic, which was 10 times better.
Are they gluten free?
Normal blinis unfortunately don’t tend to be gluten-free or dairy-free to buy in supermarkets. As they are essentially just pancake batter, they are often made up of wheat based flour as standard – despite the fact that the traditional Russian recipe uses naturally GF buckwheat flour!
However, this makes them incredibly easy to make at home by opting for vegan butter (if you’re avoiding dairy) and buckwheat flour. Not for no reason is this the traditional flour of choice – it has a really nice soft texture to it, with none of the issues of using normal GF flour.
Blinis are made up of what is essentially normal pancake batter – but with a few modifications to make them free-from and super fluffy. This recipe doesn’t contain yeast or self raising flour.
Buckwheat flour – I like to use buckwheat as a GF flour substitution, because it behaves in a similar way to normal flour and makes really nice fluffy pancakes
Egg, separated – the key part of this recipe is the separation of the eggs. By beating loads of air into the whites before gently folding them into the batter, the blinis will turn out much lighter and softer
Baking powder (GF) – the baking powder substitutes the yeast often used in traditional recipes
Dairy-free milk – all pancake batters will use some milk or water to loosen the mixture slightly, and this is no different. I like to use unsweetened soya milk or coconut milk, as you can’t detect them in the final product. Almond milk, on the other hand, can add quite a distinctive taste
How to make
Make the pancake batter – mix the flour, baking powder, soya milk (or normal milk if using) and egg yolk to form a thick (but still pourable) batter
Separate the eggs – beat the egg whites in a separate bowl using an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks have formed (1-2 mins). Then gently fold the whites into the batter. This gives the pancakes a super fluffy and airy texture
Start cooking immediately – don’t let the batter sit around before pouring into the pan, as the egg whites will be gradually losing the air you’ve just beaten in to them. For this reason, it’s best to use a large non-stick frying pan, which allows you to cook lots of individual blinis at the same time
Cooking tips – pour 1 dessert-spoon or 1/2 tablespoon of mixture from a height of around 15cm above the pan, allowing each small pancake to spread into a circle shape without needing to roll the pan around. Leave to cook on a medium-high heat for about 1 minute until the tops are bubbling, then use a spatula to carefully flip them and cook for another 30 seconds
Can you make them ahead?
Unfortunately, you can’t make the batter in advance of cooking, as the egg whites will rapidly lose the air you’ve beaten into them. However, you can cook the blinis and serve up to 24 hours later
How to store in the fridge
Make sure to store the cooked blinis in an airtight container in the fridge as soon as they’ve cooled down. When ready to serve, simply remove from the fridge about an hour before serving, to allow them to warm to room temperature. Then decorate with your preferred toppings (the salmon and cream cheese is best added separately, straight from the fridge)
Can they be frozen?
Yes! Like normal pancakes, you can freeze blinis without any issues. For best results, spread them out to cover a plate, then place a layer of aluminium foil on top and continue placing more blinis on it. Repeat this layer separation process for the whole batch, then freeze for 1 hour before transferring to a ziplock bag or airtight container.
The blinis will keep for up to 6 months. To defrost, remove from the freezer and let them gradually warm up until just below room temperature before serving.
Smoked salmon – this is the classic pairing, and for good reason. Smear a small spoon of vegan cream cheese underneath each salmon slice for a light and creamy appetiser
Pesto, cream cheese & cherry tomatoes – this combo isn’t only great in paninis, but also as a blini topping
Homemade guacamole – mash up some avocado with a generous squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Then combine with any number of toppings (including the smoked salmon)
Cheese – being dairy-free, I rarely bother with vegan cheese, as it’s just not the same. However, for lactose eaters, these blinis are great topped with combinations of goats cheese and fresh tomatoes, or ricotta and pesto, among others
Caviar – as one of the traditional toppings, this is another one that can be paired with cream cheese
Dessert options – this is ripping off the original recipe a bit, but as blinis are literally mini pancakes, you can easily turn them into a cute dessert version. Top with a homemade chocolate ganache and fresh strawberry halves for an indulgent sweet option, or make it a bit lighter with whipped cream and fresh strawberries
How to serve
Do you eat them hot or cold? This is probably the most common question. From a practical point of view, eating them cold (or rather, room-temperature) allows you to add toppings like cream cheese without them melting everywhere.
However, there’s no harm serving them slightly warm if you’re quick about it, or if it works your chosen toppings. Either way, make sure to serve immediately after adding the toppings on.
Gluten-free salmon blinis
- Mixing bowl
- Electric hand mixer or whisk
- Large non-stick frying pan
- 60 g (½ cup) buckwheat flour
- 1 large egg, separated
- 100 ml alt-milk, e.g. unsweetened soya
- ½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
- 1 tsp vegan butter (for greasing the pan)
- 150 g (5oz) smoked salmon for topping
- 60 g (2oz) vegan cream cheese for topping
- 3 stems fresh chives, finely chopped
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, soya milk and egg yolk to form a fairly thick batter (it should still be pourable - if too stiff, add extra milk or water to loosen)
- Tip the egg white into a smaller separate mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Gently fold the whites into the main pancake batter
- Heat a teaspoon of vegan butter in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat until bubbling. Then, using a dessert spoon, scoop a small amount of the batter and drop it into the pan. Repeat for as many small pancakes that you can fit in the pan while still leaving gaps between them
- Cook the blinis for 1 minute until risen and bubbling on top, then use a spatula to carefully flip them to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a large plate and repeat for the rest of the batter
- Once cooled, serve with strips of smoked salmon, cream cheese and a sprinkle of finely chopped chives
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